Now what I really want to do is to make you think differently about competition. So it would be a very short podcast if I gave my real opinion which is to tell you that there is no such thing as competition.
Competition is if you think of someone as a competitor, you are thinking negatively and if you think negatively, it’s not going to do you a lot of good.
It is much better to think positively about things and to embrace it.
Demand is a Positive Thing
So, first concept is if there is a lot of, and we will call it competition, in your area, in your trade, in your local industry, what that means is that there is a lot of demand and that is a positive.
Because if there are lots of people doing what you do, it means there are many many many customers for you to go and win.
If there wasn’t a lot of competition, then it’s quite likely that others have tried it and there isn’t enough business to go around and support other businesses, okay. So that’s one good thing.
Many people make the mistake of say in a High Street or in a downtown area of thinking, whoa, there is no fancy posh cheese shop here.
I know, I’m going to make my fortune, I am going to invest all my redundancy money, all my retirement fund into a cheese shop because nobody has thought of that before.
Well, the reason there isn’t a fancy posh cheese shop could quite likely be because there is no demand or someone has tried it and it has not worked.
So that’s not the way to think of it, lots of competition, a good sign.
Know Everything About Your Competitor
In other words, mystery shop. And yes, by the way, this may cost you money. And this isn’t you wearing a beard and a hat or something or pretending to be someone else.
You can of course phone up and see how they handle phone calls, depends on what business you are in. If it’s in a shop, if they don’t know you, you could go in; but it would be better to get someone else, a friend, a colleague, a work mate to go and do this for you.
But, you may have to give them some money to purchase the other people’s things. And of course, if your competition are selling multi-million dollar luxury yachts, not so easy, but generally you can afford it.
You have to spend money to build your business, I’m sorry, it’s going to come out of the pockets somehow, but, it’s an investment, it’s marketing.
So mystery shop, find out everything about your competitors, that means looking at their websites.
Rank Those You Consider Competitors
So write down who are your competitors, rank them; who is top, give it a reason. Why? Why do you think they are top? Now is it because you think they are the top, or is it because you know they have more customers? How do you know that? Is it hearsay?
So on websites, who has the best website? Who ranks the highest in Google? Things like that, but take a note of their website, print it out.
And then, once you have all of that data and you find out something about them, write down what you like about your certain competitors and what you don’t like. And then adopt the things you like and make sure you’re not doing the things you don’t like that they are doing.
Do you see how you can use this to model and improve? And also, if you happen to have an extra secret sauce that you find that they are not using, think “I will keep that from close to my chest and make the most of it.”
Find out what value propositions they give to their customers in their adverts in the Yellow Pages or in their website or in local ads, whatever it is.
And see if there is any common factors there, things that look good, things you’re missing, thing that don’t look good, things like that.
Now the other one, and this is going to be the controversial one is, and by the way, this really does work so sorry, prepare yourself.
Invite Those People Out to Lunch
Contact your competitors, contact the boss and invite them out for lunch or go meet them for a cup of coffee, or for a drink down in the pub.
Do it away from business, don’t go to their premises, meet up somewhere else, buy them lunch. And what you will find is that you have someone who has things in common with you, you will find that they are normal, they are just like you, they have the same struggles, they have the same issues.
You may share some suppliers, you may be able to import something together. Now suddenly they are not a competitor, they are suddenly a colleague.
You could discuss with them what happens, if you are a smaller business, what happens when you go on holiday, who covers? How about if they covered for you? How about if you offered to cover for them in holidays?
And suddenly, they are not your competitor anymore, they are possibly a friend. And you don’t have to become best mates, but remember the old adage about keeping friends close and enemies closer? Well, these aren’t enemies, but that works.
If you become sort of friendly with your competitor, they are very very very unlikely to try and take your customers away from you because they know you.
They are very unlikely to say bad things about you because they know you and they know they’re going to meet you for a cup of coffee in every month or every couple of months.
So you can discuss your collective competitors whilst at the same time getting to know them. But if you actually know your competitors, you will suddenly find that they are not their colleagues.
How do you think trade associations get started? They are full of fellow people with a common goal.
Now of course, you all want each other’s customers, but that’s the way it goes, there’s plenty to go around; you just find out everything you know about them and just do it better. People will soon find out there’s other ways of getting customers.
The other thing is that you can find out pricing whilst you are doing this mystery shopping and so on. And only one of you is the cheapest and you will soon get to understand that the one who is the most expensive still has customers; it may be you, you have got customers, so it’s not all about price, that’s something else that you will learn.
But anyway, embrace your competition, but the best way to remove them as a competitor, is to convert them to being a friend. And honestly, that’s not all wishy-washy, this really does work, we’ve done this over and over and over.
In the old fire extinguisher game, I knew all the local fire extinguisher companies, they were friends, we met up every now and again, we did not chase each other’s customers, and we just chased the customers of the big competitors, the nationals. It works great.
Monday Book Recommendation
So, it’s Monday, time for book for the week. Now this one is relating to sales; I am talking more about sales lately, it’s called The Challenger Sale.
It is very good, it is again, a little controversial, it’s by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon.
And what they have done is they researched and interviewed thousands of top sales reps to find the commonalities.
And what they found is that all the reps fell into five distinct profiles and there is ways that they worked.
But while all the reps deliver average performance, only one type of those five delivered consistently high performance, they were called “The Challenger”, so that’s why it’s called The Challenger Sale.
And basically instead of, as they say, bludgeoning customers with facts and features, which is what most do, challengers approach customers with insights about how they can save or make money.
See how that would work for a customer? They tailor their message to the customers needs and take it from there.
So it’s a very interesting book, I strongly recommend it, it gives you new insight on sales and as I said the other day, teach everyone in your business to sell and your business will grow significantly, very very quickly.